Crywolf Exclusive Interview By Amber Lynn  You played a really emotional set at MR. How do you separate yourself from your work? Does it ever get too emotional?  A big part of my pre-show ritual is getting into an emotional space where I can be vulnerable in front of a crowd. I think most of those emotions are typically under the surface; it’s not like they’re expressed that often. So when I’m performing I don’t just wanna go through the motions. I think it’d be really easy to get to a point where you’re just singing the same things over and over again and you get a little bit distant; you get a little bit separated from it, you get disenchanted with it. Part of what I always really try to do is to get into a place where I’m genuinely expressing those things as opposed to just sort of singing the songs. Where I’m actually communicating with the audience in some kind of way. So, for me, it’s less of a problem of separating myself from my work, and more trying to get swallowed up by it at the moment and really express those things. Outside of that, a lot of times there are different areas in the music world (or in the life of a musician) when you do wanna be separate from your work. Like when I meet new people, I don’t really talk about being a musician. Only because in that regard I do wanna be separate from my work. I don’t want to be ‘Justin the musician’ at all times to all people. I wanna be ‘Justin the musician’ when I’m playing shows, and when I’m working on music, but outside of that I wanna be ‘Justin the human being’ that’s completely separate from music. In other situations, I do separate myself from myself, but the challenge is letting yourself get swept up in the moment and actually connecting. How do you deal with mistakes on stage? Another huge part of my pre-show rituals is getting in a place mentally where I’m super, super focused because the systems and the entire live rigs that I built are really complicated and there are so many things that could go wrong. Any one thing that goes wrong on the surface could be one of like 30 different issues. So I really have to be super sharp to play the show and troubleshoot correctly. Any time you’re dealing with CPUs and computers, there’s always gonna be lots of stuff that could go wrong. That’s just par for the course and you have to get used to it. So stuff will go wrong on stage and I have to be able to seamlessly correct it without looking like I’m fixing it. It’s not often mistakes on my part, I rehearse my set to the point where it’s very rare that I’ll make a mistake and if I do I just laugh it off because I almost never do, but it’s more of the technology messing up. Typically if I mess up live, I don’t really sweat it that much. I’ve just rehearsed enough to where it doesn’t happen that often and if it does, it’s just part of performing live and I think the audience typically understands that. I just played Seattle which was super fun and sold out at this place called The Crocodile. At one point I was talking about this song I was gonna play, this new song from the EP, and I triggered something and it was the wrong track. So the last song came on for a second and it wasn’t even like “Oh no! I messed up!” I just laughed it off and said “I didn’t mean to play that song” and everyone just laughed it off. I think when you have fans that are really connected to your art, they don’t really care about stuff like that. I believe that some people when they’re playing soft ticket dates, they’re playing for a lot of people who don’t really know their music that well so if they mess up those people are gonna judge them really hard whereas at my shows, the only reason those people are there are to see me. If people don’t wanna see me, they’re not gonna come. So anyone that’s there is gonna be super supportive. What has been your favorite set or festival you’ve played in the past year or so? I would probably say my first LA show because it was my first time that I’ve done a headlining live set, all my other live sets have just been direct support for Savoy. There was a lot riding on that show, but it ended up selling out. It was just so much fun. The whole place was slammed with people and every single song that came on I could barely hear myself singing because everyone was singing so loud. It was the first time I had sold out a big venue. It was a special moment for me. I have to ask, what’s the story behind The Home We Made Part 2? I don’t generally talk about the story behind songs. Sometimes with a single I’ll post general events that inspired it. I’m just a big fan of purposeful ambiguity in art like keeping certain things unsaid and certain things ambiguous so they can start to mean certain things to people that they couldn’t mean otherwise. The reason is if I explained some of those situations it really wouldn’t be accurate. The surface of that explanation is such a tiny part of what it’s actually about. In reality, it could be about this way deeper universal truth that I don’t really know how to verbalize and so instead I say “Oh it’s about my ex-girlfriend doing this” and it’s like okay, that’s pretty basic. In reality, it’s about all these crazy, deep things underneath what happened, but I write music about it instead of explaining it because I don’t have the words for it. That’s the entire reason I write music to begin with; so trying to explain it, it ends up falling short. If there was no music career, what would you be doing right now? What did you go to school for and where?  I was going to school for economics before I started making music. I went to Pace University in New York and my ultimate plan was to transfer to the University of Chicago. So that’s probably where I’d be, I would have graduated by now. So I’d probably be pursuing some sort of Masters’ Degree or some kind of post graduate degree. I think I’d be in some entrepreneurial position like starting a business or something like that. I’ve always really liked business and stuff but obviously it’s completely on the other side of the spectrum from music. Do you ever get nervous before a show?  No, not nervous per se. I get really hyper-focused and I have to get hyper-focused, I definitely get in a weird headspace, I just wouldn’t call it “nervous.” I’m never like “Oh, what if something goes wrong?” It’s a general feeling of excitement. I did get nervous before going on at Bass Center when I did that vocal spot with Bassnectar. I definitely got nervous then, but that was mainly because he had asked me to write a new part for the song specifically for that performance and we were supposed to go over it like a bunch of times, and he ended up being super busy, and it ended up being that we couldn’t go over it at all. So I was basically going in performing this thing in front of 30,000 people without ever having gone over it even once. I went in it thinking so many things could have gone wrong whereas generally before a show I’m taking the risk and most of the things that could go wrong; I’ve already anticipated and know how to fix. How many instruments do you actually play and what’s your favorite? I don’t know an actual count, but there’s probably about thirty instruments I can play. There are a lot of melodic instruments and once you learn the foundational aspects of melody and harmony, you can pretty much play any of them. Anything that makes melodies that you place in front of me I can technically play it. Doesn’t mean I’m excellent but that’s how I am with most instruments. As far as for ones that I’m good at my favorite is probably piano, I always return to piano. That’s what I compose most my stuff on. crywolf-phillips-10 How old are you and when did you get started out in music? I began playing music at a really early age because my parents dabbled in music and they surrounded us with it growing up. We always sang and played instruments when we were kids. We grew up in Hong Kong so it was a weird smattering of different US music that comes over on CDs. How did you get to where you are now? It was a process of finding my identity in music and finding out what I actually wanted to do with music and sticking to it to the fullest extent of my abilities. A lot of people have a hard time finding out what they wanna do in music and once they do find that a lot of them will do it for a little bit and if it doesn’t stick they just move on. So there were a lot of periods in this journey with Crywolf where I got to the point to where I was like, “I could change it up. This isn’t working.” I’m really glad that I stuck with it because now it’s caught on a lot. A combination of perseverance, creativity, and uniqueness. I was creeping on your IG and saw where you had lost your voice and made it into a breathtaking track. Where did you come up with the idea for that? That was where I was doing a song a day for an EP. If you do one song every day it really pushes you creatively because you have to work every day. I did not think it was a cool sound, but I wanted to make this terrible sound and make it something cool. That was a challenge. What was it like working with Bassnectar?  He is a really incredible guy! It’s easy if you’re that big of an artist to get a little bit jaded with the world. I understand when people are like that, but Lorin is super, super personable and helpful and generous and just really understanding. He’s definitely a really cool guy and it was a pretty surreal experience for me because Bassnectar was the second or third electronic artist that I ever heard. I had only listened to Rusko for a couple of months before I saw Bassnectar. He was one of the foundational artists in my development and the way that it all came about was random. I got an email from his management and from him out of the blue, without me having talked to him at all. I’ve never had a bigger artist co-sign before. It’s always just sort of been me alone in the industry so having somebody as big as him be that excited about my music was definitely a big confidence booster. Are there any artists you base your sound off of? Or influence you? There isn’t anyone who I “go after,” but often I derive instrumental inspiration from ‘alt-J’ or Odesza. Vocally I get a lot of inspiration from ‘City and Colour.’ crywolf-phillips-7 Who has been your favorite artist to work with? I don’t work with a lot of artists because I’ve been very focused on finding my own unique sound over the last couple of years. I haven’t really done a lot of collaborations, but out of the ones that I have done I’ve definitely enjoyed working with Echos. We’re all really good friends and they’ve helped me work on other things other than music. crywolf-phillips-6 Any surprises in the near future? There’s a lot of really cool stuff coming up on the horizon! What is your most meaningful piece of music that you made and why? For me either the song Anachronism or Epithelial. I think those are the two that are lyrically mean the most to me. I believe that Cataclasm as a whole piece of content is my standard answer, but if I had to choose a single track it’d be one of those two. I wrote that whole album in a very crucial time in my life and some of those songs are just so meaningful to me and every time I play it, I really feel it. What do you have to say to upcoming artists? Any advice? I think that the most important thing is urging them to be unique in what they do. I always felt like I couldn’t say anything unique because I was always trying to be something. I never really felt like I was expressing myself until I stopped caring about trying to affect people in some way. Make your priority finding your own voice as opposed to making things that other people are gonna like.  ]]]]> ]]>